State Dept Urges American Citizens To Leave Russia ‘Immediately’ As Flights Canceled

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On Sunday, the State Department issued a Security Alert urging American citizens to leave Russia by commercial means available:

An increasing number of airlines are cancelling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines. U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available. The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that the Department of State’s Travel Advisory level for Russia is at “Level 4: Do Not Travel.”

This alert comes several days after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and follows a January 23 Level 4 Travel Advisory encouraging Americans not to travel to Russia.

“Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law,” the advisory read.

It continued, stating that the ability for the United States to engage with American in need in Russia was “severely limited,” especially outside of the nation’s capital city of Moscow.

On Sunday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced a complete ban on all Russian flights and aircraft from European Union airspace.

“First, we are shutting down the EU airspace for Russians. We are proposing a prohibition on all Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft,” the statement read. “These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU. This will apply to any plane owned, chartered or otherwise controlled by a Russian legal or natural person.”

Following the European Commission’s proclamation, Russia’s preeminent airline, Aeroflot, announced that it had banned all flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg to various European nations. A message from what appears to be Aeroflot’s official Twitter account, translated via Google, states:

Due to the closure of the airspace of a number of European countries, Aeroflot cancels flights and suspends flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg (including flights operated by Rossiya Airlines) to a number of destinations[.]

On Sunday, the war on Ukraine continued, with satellite imagery showing a miles-long convoy of Russian military vehicles moving toward the capital city of Kyiv. Additionally, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nation’s nuclear deterrent forces to be moved into a “special regime of combat duty.”

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